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Am I Sleeping Too Much?

Posted Sep 19th, 2019 in Is This Normal?

Sleep - Is this Normal?

Many older adults think that it's normal to have daytime naps after they retire, and that sleep is a great way to get stronger and fitter.  But, is it normal to sleep more as we age?  You might be surprised at the answer.

A transcript of this short video is below.


 Today we're going to talk about sleep, and a lot of people want to know if it's normal to sleep as much as they do in their senior years. Now, I'm a specialist who looks after seniors. And usually when people are coming to see me, it's because of some challenge or some issue that they want advice on. But I always take a sleep history because I want to find out how much time somebody is spending, sleeping or if not sleeping, then in a sleeping position.
 
A lot of us think that we need more sleep as we get older. We're just more tired. I mean, we're however many years old after all, and we've kind of earned a rest. Right. But that's not true. It's not normal to sleep more than about seven or eight hours per night for a senior. Sleeping more than that has actually been associated with increased mortality and an increased risk of cardiovascular events in some of the studies I've read.

Just because we're older doesn't mean that we have a license to snooze. I know we think about sleep as being healing, and if we're tired or recovering from an illness, sleep can be restorative. However, we really can't rest our way well or we can't really sleep our way. Strong sleeping and lying down is actually what can contribute to muscle weakness and can make us feel more tired. You know how you feel if you've had the flu for a couple of days and you've kind of been in bed and then when you get up and at it again, you feel just so tired and fatigued and lightheaded and your muscles might even feel tired.

 And that's from that deconditioning process that can happen. So, you know, is it normal to sleep more than 12 hours a night? No, it's not. Unless you're a newborn before twelve months of age, we probably need about 14 to 17 hours per sleep. I don't know if any of my kids got that memo, but apparently it's true. After we reach one year of age, our sleep requirements actually kind of go down. So by the time we reach our senior years, we're probably best functioning or the healthiest time to sleep per day is probably between six and eight hours.

 So I can't really give you a license to nap. Of course, everybody is different. Some medical conditions will make people feel more sleepy. But as a part of normal aging, you've just got to get up and get moving. I hope you've learned something, even if it wasn't what you wanted to hear, and I'm really happy to join into a discussion, so please comment below. 

 

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